Ghost Batteries: A Story of the After Life

Medieval_ghostAs mentioned briefly in my previous article, the megamind Musk is already tapping into the idea that ‘used’ electric vehicle batteries could be used to abet a solar array, and potentially take customers off grid, lessening their electricity costs and improving their sustainability through stored renewable energy. Because while a Tesla, or other EV, can last a decade of use, eventually, the car is unfit for road usage. But that doesn’t mean its battery’s life is over. With the growing number of EV sales (shooting from 50,000 in 2012 to 100,000 purchased in 2013), there will come a time in the near future when a mass of used EV batteries will be ripe for a second-life.

This abundance has the potential to radically shift the energy market, enabling EV users to repurpose old batteries into energy-storing units, creating full or semi-independence from the grid, without having to invest in other expensive options. Or, better yet, customers can, as Musk suggests, create an autonomous energy system, combining a solar array and a used EV battery.

In Japan, Sumimoto has created an array of 16 used EV batteries that will be charged from a nearby solar farm, and plans to observe and experiment with the different possibilities. BMW, another company looking into the possibilities of a battery’s second life, says that EV batteries can deliver, on average, 80% of their original storage capacity, once retired from vehicular usage. The company is working with EU energy collaborators to discover new and exciting usages for used batteries.

As EV sales continue to grow, we will see the emergence of a new energy market, and with it countless new business models based on retired battery usage. So keep looking, because as ghost batteries enter the market, the outcomes could be truly….supernatural (Yes, I am that cheesy.)

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